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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOur Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures Of A Gentle Man - Chapter XIX TO A HAPPY SHORE
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Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures Of A Gentle Man - Chapter XIX TO A HAPPY SHORE Post by :ebizwhiz Category :Long Stories Author :Sinclair Lewis Date :February 2011 Read :2587

Click below to download : Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures Of A Gentle Man - Chapter XIX TO A HAPPY SHORE (Format : PDF)

Our Mr. Wrenn: The Romantic Adventures Of A Gentle Man - Chapter XIX TO A HAPPY SHORE

Upon an evening of November, 1911, it chanced that of Mrs. Arty's
flock only Nelly and Mr. Wrenn were at home. They had finished
two hot games of pinochle, and sat with their feet on a small
amiable oil-stove. Mr. Wrenn laid her hand against his cheek
with infinite content. He was outlining the situation at the
office.

The business had so increased that Mr. Mortimer R. Guilfogle,
the manager, had told Rabin, the head traveling-salesman, that
he was going to appoint an assistant manager. Should he, Mr.
Wrenn queried, try to get the position? The other candidates,
Rabin and Henson and Glover, were all good friends of his, and,
furthermore, could he "run a bunch of guys if he was over them?"

"Why, of course you can, Billy. I remember when you came here
you were sort of shy. But now you're 'most the star boarder!
And won't those others be trying to get the job away from you?
Of course!"

"Yes, that's so."

"Why, Billy, some day you might be manager!"

"Say, that would be great, wouldn't it! But hones', Nell, do you
think I might have a chance to land the assistant's job?"

"I certainly do."

"Oh, Nelly--gee! you make me--oh, learn to bank on myself--"

He kissed her for the second time in his life.

"Mr. Guilfogle," stated Mr. Wrenn, next day, "I want to talk to
you about that assistant managership."

The manager, in his new office and his new flowered waistcoat,
had acted interested when Our steady and reliable Mr. Wrenn came
in. But now he tried to appear dignified and impatient.

"That--" he began.

"I've been here longer than any of the other men, and I know
every line of the business now, even the manufacturing. You
remember I held down Henson's job when his wife was sick."

"Yes, but--"

"And I guess Jake thinks I can boss all right, and Miss
Leavenbetz, too."

"Now will you kindly 'low _me to talk a little, Wrenn? I know
a _little something about how things go in the office myself!
I don't deny you're a good man. Maybe some day you may get to be
assistant manager. But I'm going to give the first try at it to
Glover. He's had so much more experience with meeting people
directly--personally. But you're a good man--"

"Yes, I've heard that before, but I'll be gol-darned if I'll
stick at one desk all my life just because I save you all the
trouble in that department, Guilfogle, and now--"

"Now, now, now, now! Calm down; hold your horses, my boy. This
ain't a melodrama, you know."

"Yes, I know; I didn't mean to get sore, but you know--"

"Well, now I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to
make you head of the manufacturing department instead of getting
in a new man, and shift Henson to purchasing. I'll put Jake on
your old job, and expect you to give him a lift when he needs
it. And you'd better keep up the most important of the
jollying-letters, I guess."

"Well, I like that all right. I appreciate it. But of course
I expect more pay--two men's work--"

"Let's see; what you getting now?"

"Twenty-three."

"Well, that's a good deal, you know. The overhead expenses have
been increasing a lot faster than our profits, and we've--"

"Huh!"

"--got to see where new business is coming in to justify the
liberal way we've treated you men before we can afford to do
much salary-raising--though we're just as glad to do it as you
men to get it; but--"

"Huh!"

"--if we go to getting extravagant we'll go bankrupt, and then
we won't any of us have jobs.... Still, I _am willing to raise
you to twenty-five, though--"

"Thirty-five!"

Mr. Wrenn stood straight. The manager tried to stare him down.
Panic was attacking Mr. Wrenn, and he had to think of Nelly to
keep up his defiance. At last Mr. Guilfogle glared, then roared:
"Well, confound it, Wrenn, I'll give you twenty-nine-fifty, and not
a cent more for at least a year. That's final. _Understand?_"

"All right," chirped Mr. Wrenn.

"Gee!" he was exulting to himself, "never thought I'd get
anything like that. Twenty-nine-fifty! More 'n enough to marry
on now! I'm going to get _twenty-nine-fifty!_"


"Married five months ago to-night, honey," said Mr. Wrenn to
Nelly, his wife, in their Bronx flat, and thus set down October
17, 1913, as a great date in history.

"Oh, I _know it, Billy. I wondered if you'd remember. You just
ought to see the dessert I'm making--but that's a s'prise."

"Remember! Should say I did! See what I've got for somebody!"

He opened a parcel and displayed a pair of red-worsted
bed-slippers, a creation of one of the greatest red-worsted
artists in the whole land. Yes, and he could afford them, too.
Was he not making thirty-two dollars a week--he who had been poor!
And his chances for the assistant managership "looked good."

"Oh, they'll be so comfy when it gets cold. You're a dear! Oh,
Billy, the janitress says the Jewish lady across the court in
number seventy is so lazy she wears her corsets to bed!"

"Did the janitress get the coal put in, Nell?"

"Yes, but her husband is laid off again. I was talking to her
quite a while this afternoon.... Oh, dear, I do get so lonely
for you, sweetheart, with nothing to do. But I did read some
_Kim this afternoon. I liked it."

"That's fine!"

"But it's kind of hard. Maybe I'll--Oh, I don't know.
I guess I'll have to read a lot."

He patted her back softly, and hoped: "Maybe some day we can get
a little house out of town, and then you can garden.... Sorry
old Siddons is laid off again.... Is the gas-stove working all
right now?"

"Um-huh, honey. I fixed it."

"Say, let me make the coffee, Nell. You'll have enough to do
with setting the table and watching the sausages."

"All rightee, hun. But, oh, Billy, I'm so, shamed. I was going
to get some potato salad, and I've just remembered I forgot."
She hung her head, with a fingertip to her pretty lips, and
pretended to look dreadfully ashamed. "Would you mind so ver-ee
much skipping down to Bachmeyer's for some? Ah-h, is it just
fearful neglected when it comes home all tired out?"

"No, indeedy. But you got to kiss me first, else I won't go at all."

Nelly turned to him and, as he held her, her head bent far back.
She lay tremblingly inert against his arms, staring up at him,
panting. With her head on his shoulder--a soft burden of love
that his shoulder rejoiced to bear--they stood gazing out of the
narrow kitchen window of their sixth-story flat and noticed for
the hundredth time that the trees in a vacant lot across were
quite as red and yellow as the millionaire trees in Central Park
along Fifth Avenue.

"Sometime," mused Mr. Wrenn, "we'll live in Jersey, where
there's trees and trees and trees--and maybe there'll be kiddies
to play under them, and then you won't be lonely, honey; they'll
keep you some busy!"

"You skip along now, and don't be talking nonsense, or I'll not
give you one single wee bit of dinner!" Then she blushed adorably,
with infinite hope.

He hastened out of the kitchen, with the happy glance he never
failed to give the living-room--its red-papered walls with shiny
imitation-oak woodwork; the rows of steins on the plate-rack;
the imitation-oak dining-table, with a vase of newly dusted
paper roses; the Morris chair, with Nelly's sewing on a tiny
wicker table beside it; the large gilt-framed oleograph of
"Pike's Peak by Moonlight."

He clattered down the slate treads of the stairs. He fairly
vaulted out of doors. He stopped, startled.

Across the ragged vacant lots to the west a vast sunset
processional marched down the sky. It had not been visible from
their flat, which looked across East River to the tame grassy
shore of a real-estate boomer's suburb. "Gee!" he mourned,
"it's the first time I've noticed a sunset for a month! I used
to see knights' flags and Mandalay and all sorts of stuff in
sunsets!"

Wistfully the exile gazed at his lost kingdom, till the October
chill aroused him.

But he learned a new way to cook eggs from the proprietor of the
delicatessen store; and his plans for spending the evening
playing pinochle with Nelly, and reading the evening paper
aloud, set him chuckling softly to himself as he hurried home
through the brisk autumn breeze with seven cents' worth of
potato salad.

 


THE END.
Our Mr. Wrenn, by Sinclair Lewis.

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